Thursday, October 29, 2009

Who's Afraid Of Pedro Martinez?

Let's be honest, a lot more of us than would be had the Yankees won last night. Even the people who aren't worried at least realize the possibility that Pedro could come up with a resplendent performance against the Yanks at a very inopportune time for them.

Pedro has always been a bit of an enigma. A hot-headed, head-hunting control pitcher. A strikeout artist who rarely walks guys. A power pitcher with great feel. A little guy with a big arm.

The Yankees know him all to well, as they saw the most of Pedro when he was at his best. Save for this last year in Montreal and his first in Flushing, Pedro's prime fell squarely during his time with the Red Sox. From 1998-2004, which also nicely encapsulates the height of the so-called Steroid Era, Pedro had an ERA of 2.52 (190 ERA+) and struck out nearly 11 batters per nine innings while walking only 2, good for an otherworldly K/BB ratio of 5.45.

During that time, he threw 189 regular season innings against the Yankees - when they were also quite excellent - to a 3.20 ERA and 11-11 record. He faced them 6 times in the postseason (5 starts) and in 34.1 IP, he had a 5.01 ERA and gave up 32 hits and 13 walks while striking out 42. Like the regular season, he had as many losses as wins (3-3).

Of course, that was a pretty long time ago. Since then, Pedro moved to New York but has only pitched against the Yankees four times in four years. We could look at those 27 2/3 innings but they aren't going to tell us anymore about what he's likely to do against the Yankees tonight than his numbers against them with the Red Sox. Those four outings came against mostly different hitters and were separated by weeks, months, years, shoulder surgeries, and cockfights in the Dominican Republic.

His numbers this regular season were reasonably good but Will from IIATMS thinks that he might have gotten a little lucky to have so few line drives end up as hits and to leave so many runners on base. The biggest cause for concern is that Pedro had an excellent start against the Dodgers in the NLCS, which, according to game score was the second best postseason start of his career. He threw 7 innings of two hit, no walk ball while striking out three and needed only 87 pitches to pull it off. But as previously mentioned, that was in Southern California under perfect conditions, against an already inferior line up with a pitcher in it.

Pedro no longer has a dominant fastball, but still throws it 60% of the time. He's got a curveball and a change up that he mixes in, but neither are particularly formidable. The man from Manoguayabo survives mostly on smoke and mirrors, changing speeds and locations. That's how Cliff Lee did it last night, but Pedro will be working with far less in the way of velocity and movement.

Perhaps facing Pedro will seem easy after having to deal with Lee last night. Or maybe the Yankees will again be baffled by someone who is able to throw one of several pitches basically anywhere in the count. Time will tell.

Anyone afraid?


  1. I just took a trip to the site Colin Cowherd is Douche and found it a little ironic that the last post there back in May was about how Kay thought Lee was an ineffective one year wonder. I hope he's enjoying his word sandwich.

  2. not me. At best Pedro goes 5.1 innings I say. You could have written the same post titled, Who's Afraid of AJ Burnett though.

  3. Ok I'll comment here because this is about Pedro, but it's more about Joe Buck. Liked your article on him the other day, but here is the exact reason I hate him...

    "Pedro is 5'11 and 193 pounds and it's all heart"

    That's not even mentioning the next comment about how Pedro brings fear to NY fans without even pitching... as a NY fan I would beg to differ!!!

  4. To clarify, I think the second comment was McCarver, but still...

  5. I caught that too, Laura. I believe that would be an abnormally large heart.

    And 2009 Pedro isn't scary.

  6. The good news is that if his heart has enlarged that much he might not live long enough to be eligible for a win tonight...

  7. Also, he can't be all heart. He's at least 15% jheri curl and based on McCarver's comments he's probably about 8% fingers